Steps of Love is a US-based nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers. Recognizing the need for local presence in the communities we benefit, Steps of Love partners with AIM Peñasco (short for Asistencia Integral para Menores de Puerto Peñasco), a Mexican civil association run by local community members.

Steps of Love was incorporated as a nonprofit in the state of Arizona in November 2012. The Board of Directors signed and accepted the bylaws of the organization on March 22, 2013. On July 24th, 2013 the IRS approved our application to become a 501(c)(3) public charity under tax ID 46-1557787.
AIM Peñasco, the Mexican Civil Association, was founded in February 2016 by board member Kathleen Duncan. A local board of directors (junta directiva) was formed out of Mexican community leaders. In July 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Steps of Love and AIM Peñasco as a way to formalize the partnership and to unify the mission of both organizations.

OUR EXECUTIVE TEAM

Kathleen Duncan; AIM Peñasco / Steps of Love Liaison

Kathleen attended University of Arizona where she met her husband Arnott who is a 4th generation Arizona farmer.  After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 1983, Kathleen followed Arnott to Goodyear, AZ where she received her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology at Arizona State University. In 1982 Kathleen and Arnott founded Duncan Family Farms and while Arnott focused on operating the farm Kathleen spent most of her career working with vulnerable children and families in Arizona.

In September of 2012 Kathleen decided she wanted to find a way to give back to the community of Rocky Point, Mexico where her family have been vacationing for 25 years. She began volunteering at the newly opened Amores de Peñasco Children’s Crisis Shelter and spent the next three years  traveling from her home in Buckeye, AZ to spend 2-3 days per week supporting the children there. In 2015 Kathleen and Arnott decided they wanted to try to expand their efforts to help young people in need in Rocky Point so they formed a Mexican Civil Association called ‘Asistencia Integral para Menores de Puerto Penasco’ (Comprehensive Support for Children of Rocky Point). In August of 2016 they used their Civil Association to launch a program to help at-risk young people in the community have access to educational opportunities that can transform their lives. In just the first year their program provided ongoing comprehensive support for 72 students and it continues to grow and help more students each year go to school and succeed academically. Kathleen joined the Board of Steps of Love in June of 2013. 

Craig Mahaffy; Program Manager

Craig completed his Bachelor of Arts in Business (Global Politics) at Arizona State University in 2017. While attending ASU, Craig fueled his passion for helping others through volunteering for several different organizations. After serving children in the Dominican Republic and recent child immigrants in danger of deportation in the US, he recognized the important role that education plays in children’s lives. This led Craig to begin volunteering with Steps of Love in 2016. After a few visits to Mexico he was hooked. The lasting impact that access to education was providing for these children was so profound that Craig devoted more and more of his time to the organization.

Upon completion of his degree, Craig began working full time to support the mission and vision of Steps of Love by helping to develop programs with their partner organizations in Sonoyta and Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. While residing in Mexico for 6 months he was able to see the direct impact that this work has on kids, their families and the community at large. Craig is now working to develop Steps of Love and establish sustainable relationships within the US community to continue supporting the children of the Mexican border communities. He enjoys a good cup of coffee and a good book (often at the same time), playing sports, traveling and listening to all types of music. Craig currently resides in Phoenix and regularly returns to Mexico to maintain the relationships between Steps of Love and their partner organizations.

OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Barbara Snyder; Chair of the Board of Directors

Barbara joined the University of Phoenix as the Phoenix Campus Director in 2017.  Previously she spent sixteen years serving as a director at Arizona State University.  She has a blend of academic and community based experience, having been a case researcher at the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida, a national advisory member for the Audubon Research Ranch of the National Audubon Society, a governing board member of the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, a grant reviewer for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and a Technical Assistance Program Consultant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

She has provided Technical Assistance nationwide on diverse issues such as children’s mental health, state system change, non-profit capacity building, and forecasting social system financial liabilities.  Her national work (funded by both SAMHSA and the Annie Casey Foundation) has been noted as a best practice by the American Institutes for Research’s Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice. Barbara is also a Registered Nurse with multistate compact, speaks Spanish, and is involved in many local activities including Commissioner for the City of Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission.  Barbara has two undergraduate degrees from ASU (BA Religious Studies, BSN Nursing), and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.  She has been enrolled in a PhD program in ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovations where she won two national fellowships.

Laura Wood; Secretary

Laura was born in Michigan and has spent her life moving around from there to Arizona, Oklahoma, Germany, Alabama, and North Carolina. In 2009, she returned to Arizona where she raises her three sons, Izaac, Max, and Cohen. Laura is an advocate for social justice, believing that every individual deserves to realize their true potential. With a passion for helping others, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Services with a minor in Management, and her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from University of Phoenix.

Laura works full-time as a brand manager for the University of Phoenix. In addition to her day job, she spends evenings as a clinician with SAGE Counseling, facilitating group counseling to clients navigating through the criminal justice system and the Arizona Department of Child Safety. Joining Steps of Love is an exciting next step in Laura’s journey towards effectuating change and setting an example for her sons to positively impact
their community.

Cyndi Connelly; Treasurer

Cyndi grew up in Iowa and graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in Accounting. She worked for many years as a CPA, holding staff and management positions in audit, accounting, and finance with Deloitte, Trans World Airlines, and American Airlines. Cyndi has traveled extensively and has a passion for learning about different cultures and people. She has a heart for serving those in need and inspiring others to do the same. She volunteers extensively with her church and recently completed a three year term as Mission Elder. During that time she organized and led numerous local and international outreach activities, including biannual mission trips to Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), MX.

Cyndi is married to Gordon and they have two sons who attend Georgia Tech and Stanford. Cyndi and Gordon live in Scottsdale, AZ, and also have a condo in Rocky Point. Cyndi is committed to giving back to the Puerto Peñasco community which she considers to be her second home.

Brittannia Blanchard; Member at Large

Britty was born in Panama and received a Bachelor of Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to moving to Arizona, she lived in Illinois, North Carolina, and Florida. While she lived in Florida, Britty spent some time as a Guardian Ad Litem, as a volunteer advocate for abused children and also spent time volunteering to feed the homeless. She is a mother and she believes in the importance of love, education, and stability in a child’s life.

She has worked in the medical field most of her professional life and for the last 10 years has been the manager of a multi-specialty doctors’ practice located in Arizona. Britty believes in paying forward the good that comes into one’s life. She and her staff have been fundraising for women and children causes since 2003.

Niki Ramirez; Member at Large

Niki Ramirez, a Minnesota transplant, came to Arizona in 1995 to attend Arizona State University where she studied Spanish literature and business. Niki went on to obtain a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources Management from the University of Phoenix, and she holds dual human resource professional certifications. Niki is the founder and principal consultant at HR Answers LLC, a human resources consulting firm focusing on helping clients achieve success through designing and implementing effective HR programs.

In September of 2012 Kathleen decided she wanted to find a way to give back to the community of Rocky Point, Mexico where her family have been vacationing for 25 years. She began volunteering at the newly opened Amores de Peñasco Children’s Crisis Shelter and spent the next three years  traveling from her home in Buckeye, AZ to spend 2-3 days per week supporting the children there. In 2015 Kathleen and Arnott decided they wanted to try to expand their efforts to help young people in need in Rocky Point so they formed a Mexican Civil Association called ‘Asistencia Integral para Menores de Puerto Penasco’ (Comprehensive Support for Children of Rocky Point). In August of 2016 they used their Civil Association to launch a program to help at-risk young people in the community have access to educational opportunities that can transform their lives. In just the first year their program provided ongoing comprehensive support for 72 students and it continues to grow and help more students each year go to school and succeed academically. Kathleen joined the Board of Steps of Love in June of 2013.

OUR FOUNDER

Karina (Lungo) Jones

Karina was born in El Salvador, Central America. She holds a Masters degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Arizona State University and a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Murcia, Spain. Karina has vast international experience: after obtaining her undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and International Business at Harding University, Arkansas, she joined Procter and Gamble where she worked for 14 years as Service Leader and Project Manager. With Procter & Gamble, she traveled to almost every country in Latin America, an experience that allowed her to appreciate the cultural diversity of the American continents and to relate to the needs of the Hispanic population.

In 2012, Karina started a new adventure by exploring the social sector while obtaining her degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management. These studies equipped her with the knowledge needed to organize and formalize Steps of Love as a nonprofit organization. In 2012 she incorporated Steps of Love as a nonprofit organization in the State of Arizona and in 2013 her application for a 501(c)(3) was granted. Karina currently works full-time for Arizona State University while also fulfilling her passion of giving back through volunteering at various organizations. Karina and her family live in Gilbert, Arizona.